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SSERVI Analogue Regolith Simulant Testbed

Joseph Minafra
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Abstract Text: 

Introduction: The Solar System Exploration Re-search Virtual Institute (SSERVI) at NASA Ames Re-search Center in California’s Silicon Valley was founded in 2013 as a virtual institute that provides interdisciplinary research to its supporting directorates: the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD).

Primary research goals of the Institute integrate science and exploration to support future human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit. As one of the many services provided to the planetary community, SSERVI manages a regolith testbed facility with ~8 tons of JSC1A lunar regolith simulant, which provides the planetary exploration community with a readily avail-able capability to test hardware and conduct research in a large simulant environment. This presentation will outline several opportunities for research scientists and engineers to study the effects of an analogue regolith testbed.
SSERVI's goals for this testbed include: supporting planetary researchers within NASA and other government agencies; private sector and hardware developers; competitors in focused prize design competitions; and researchers in the academic sector.

Capabilities: SSERVI provides opportunities for scientists and engineers to study the effects of a lunar regolith analog testbed for planetary exploration re-search . This capability is essential to help understand the basic effects of continued long-term exposure to a simulated analog test environment.
The current facility houses approximately eight tons of JSC-1A lunar regolith simulant in a 4 meter by 4 meter test chamber with dust mitigation equipment and safety oversight.
Summary: SSERVI provides a bridge between sever-al groups, including: 1) the scientific and exploration communities, 2) researchers from multiple disciplines across a wide range of planetary sciences, and 3) domestic and inter-national communities and partnerships. This regolith testbed provides safe access to a lunar analog environment for NASA academic and commercial communities.

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Recognizing that science and human exploration are mutually enabling, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to address basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies. As a virtual institute, SSERVI funds investigators at a broad range of domestic institutions, bringing them together along with international partners via virtual technology to enable new scientific efforts."